Build your action plan

Gareth Hughes

Gareth Hughes is the Clinical Lead for Student Space and is a psychotherapist, researcher and writer on student wellbeing, including the book Be Well, Learn Well

Filling out an action plan can help you to manage the challenges that come with uncertainty.

Action planner steps

Follow the steps below to make your own action plan. Either download a template below, or write your own on paper.

1. Choose your area of focus

Think about the aspects of the next academic year that you are most concerned about or think are most important. Try to think holistically about your entire student experience; for instance, you may want to think about social aspects, academic work, budgeting, balancing family commitments with studying and what support you may need.

2. How much control do you have?

For each area of focus think about how much control or influence you can exert over each one. It is rare for us to feel we have complete control over many aspects of our lives, but we often have more control or influence than we might first believe.

Be aware that anxiety or low mood can make us misjudge our circumstances and convince us that nothing is in our control. When thinking about this, take a moment to acknowledge your emotions, then move past what they are telling you and look at the actual evidence.

For each of the areas of focus, rate how much control or influence you think that you have, using the following scale:

  • 5. Complete control
  • 4. A lot of control
  • 3. Some control
  • 2. A little bit of control
  • 1. No control at all

3. Decide your actions

As you think about how much control you have, you may begin to see the areas where you do have control or opportunities to influence your situation. Use these ideas to help you identify the actions that you can take. Remember, you aren’t trying to make the situation perfect, you are just looking for small steps you can take, to make things a bit better.

Choose one or two small steps to take first, and act on them quickly. This will help in the short-term and show you that you’re able to manage uncertainty. Focus on a few small improvements and then move to more difficult steps.

It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to tackle this alone. There is support available at your university. Also, it may help to draw on support from your friends and family.

Your action plan will look something like this:

Issue: Will I make friends?

How much control do I have over this issue? 3, Some control.


  • Join an online forum (e.g. Student Room) and try to meet people going to my university
  • Join any online social spaces provided by my university and try to meet people on my course / in my accommodation
  • Review my Students’ Union website and make a plan for which clubs and societies I will join and how (online/in person)

My first step will be:

  • Do a Google search for online forums
Page last reviewed: October 2022